The prince of Persian hydrosols

When I was a kid, about 9 or 10, I loved playing a computer game called the “Prince of Persia.”

The prince escapes from a dungeon and spends the next hour or so climbing higher and higher levels in the palace, trying to rescue the princess before she is executed by the evil vizier.

Somewhere around level 3, the prince comes across a mirror that’s blocking his path.

This puzzle had me stuck for a long time.

If you walked right up to the the mirror, you couldn’t get through.

If you tried to run through the mirror, you’d still be blocked.

So one time, out of pure frustration, I got a running start and jumped straight at the mirror.

And lo and behold, I got through.

Only, while the prince jumped through the mirror, a second, shadow version of the prince ran in the other direction (he comes back later in the game to cause trouble).

Well, this mirror, the real prince, and his shadow are somehow related to essential oils.

Think of the mirror as the essential oil still.

The real prince as the essential oil that we all know.

And the shadow prince who runs in the opposite direction…

Well, that’s the hydrosol, or the water that separates from the essential oil at the end of the distillation process.

Also known as hydrolat, or aromatic water.

There’s been increasing interest in these hydrosols lately.

But unfortunately, not so much good information.

Today, I found a great article by Petra Ratajc on this topic.

She explains that hydrosols are not just essential oils diluted in water.

In some cases (lavender) there is a 25% similarity between the essential oil and hydrosol in terms of the constituents.

In other cases (cypress) it can be as little as 1% or 2%.

So if hydrosols can be 99% different from essential oils…

Then what’s the rest made up of?

Well, that’s a part of the mystery and attraction of hydrosols.

And Petra’s article goes into a great deal of well-researched explanation of what you can find in hydrosols, and why you might (or might not) want to use them. If you are interested, you can read it all here:

Hydrolats: Demystifying the Mystical Waters

By the way, I didn’t just make up the Persian connection to hydrosols.

Apparently, aromatic waters have a long history of use in Iran.

More than 50 different types of aromatic waters are produced and marketed there.

People drink them just for refreshment, and they are also used traditionally to treat or improve medical conditions, particularly for cardiovascular issues.

It’s just another thing to consider when you think about the recent explosion of interest in hyrdosols in the West.

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